Arts and Entertainment

All water has a perfect memory Exhibit

November 17 2023

6 - 7:30pm
Ryan Resilience Lab 4610 Colley Avenue Norfolk, VA 23508

Opening of resilience art exhibit plus symphony preview

Friday, November 17th | 6:00-7:30pm, with optional tours of the Ryan Resilience Lab at 5:30pm

FREE public event with donations welcome to support a healthy Elizabeth River


The first-ever event at the globally significant Ryan Resilience Lab will be the celebration of a national art show on resilience from the perspective of rivers, along with a preview of an original symphony composed for the site.


Organized in collaboration with Norfolk State University and juried by Barry Art Museum’s Executive Director Charlotte Potter and noted UNC-Chapel Hill environmental lawyer and geographer Danielle Purifoy, the show will present nine artists selected from across the East Coast. They include Nathan Eliott, a Nottoway-Nansemond Native American with a compelling sculpture about the changing river. The event also features a special preview of an original symphony piece composed by local artist Jerome Ellis in collaboration with Virginia Symphony Orchestra, as a tribute to the Ryan Lab’s unique, ever-evolving wetland, designed to migrate with the rising tide.


The theme of the show, taken from a Toni Morrison passage, reflects ways that the waters have changed and will change over the centuries in our Elizabeth River. When the floodwaters reach a critical point in 50-100 years, the Ryan Lab will be gracefully surrendered back to the remembering river, a process called planned retreat. In the meantime, the Ryan Resilience Lab hopes to model how to live in right relationship with the returning river.


This inaugural exhibit aims to explore the poetics of the river’s return and the resilience of communities in its path.

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